Architect Yann Weymouth Discusses “State of the Art” for New Salvador Dalí Museum

I wanted to follow up on last week’s blog about GOOD DESIGN with brief highlights of Yann Weymouth’s lecture the other evening, hosted by JMC Communities at their Ovation condominium tower in downtown St Petersburg. 

Mr. Weymouth, the architect for the new Salvador Dali Museum, is Director of Design for renowned architectural firm Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) Florida. He said HOK’s focus was to be true to Dalí and the great legacy of the Morse family — to create a unique environment of experiential spaces that move perceptually with the visitor, but remain as classic and surprising, as are Dalí’s works, without resorting to “melting clocks” or other kitsch and cliché.

Future Salvador Dali Museum

Referred to as “a master of light and reflection,” Mr. Weymouth said he took care to honor Dalí’s own masterful use of natural light and his genius at creating visual enigmas by juxtaposing solid forms and shadows to create three-dimensional enigmas. As an example, he described the almost fluid crystalline glass “enigma” that appears to pull away from the spiral staircase, creating the illusion of a dialogue between helical form and crystalline glass enclosure. Proud of how the three-story “treasure box” design turned out, Mr. Weymouth also noted several practical extras, including the waterfront building’s storm safety and its environmental elements, such as solar heating, water conservation and dehumidification—all to assure that the museum is as enduring as the artist’s body of work.

Mr. Weymouth’s museum portfolio is impressive, and a good preparation for the Salvador Dalí Museum. He worked with I.M. Pei on the Grand Louvre in Paris, supervising the design of the world-renowned glass pyramid in the 1980s, a role he had earlier as design chief for Pei on the U.S. National Gallery of Art East Wing. With HOK, he led design of the new Searing wing at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, the Hazel Hough wing at Ovation’s neighbor, the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, and the new Frost Museum in Miami.

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